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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

INTRODUCTORY  ESSAY.                                    41
Applying this view to the Indian Flora, we may illustrate
it by assuming, as an example, that the majority of the many
plants common- to the Himalaya and Java migrated over con-
tinuous intervening land, which has been broken up by geo-
logical causes, chiefly by subsidence; just as the partial sub-
sidence of Java itself would effect a further dismemberment
of a» area now continuously peopled with plants, and which
would result in a cluster of islets, having a vegetation in com-
mon. Extending this idea of submergence and emergence of
land, one island may at different epochs have been continuous
with different continents, from all of which it may have re-
ceived immigrants. We are very far from denying the active
agency of the winds and of animals in aiding distribution,
and, to a limited extent, of oceanic currents also; but all the
phenomena of geographical distribution, when carefully stu-
died, are so uniform in their nature, and so harmonious, as to
demand some far higher and more comprehensive agent than t
•the desultory and intermittent motions of the elements or of
animals, to produce the present grouping of plants.
There is a very curious theoretical point bearing upon the
distribution of species, first enunciated, we believe, by a most
accomplished observer, Dean Herbert, and which, we think,
has never been sufficiently, appreciated or followed out; it is,
that species in general do not grow where they like best, but
where they ean best find room. Plants, in a state of nature,
arc always warring with one another, contending for the
monopoly of the soil,—the stronger ejecting the weaker,—
the more vigorous overgrowing and killing the more delicate.
Every modification of climate, every disturbance of the soil,
every interference with the existing vegetation of an area, fa-
vours some species at the expense of others. The life of a
plant is as much one of strife as that of an animal, with this
cannot too strongly recommend this able and original essay to the study of our
readers, as the most important contribution to the philosophy of distribution
that has ever appeared. We consider the principles embodied to be sound, of
universal application, and atf necessary to be understood by the student of nature
as arc the laws of climate and the distribution of heat and cold,
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